When companies and plans go belly up
We had a travel blow a couple of weeks back.
Brittany, our Flight Centre agent in Canberra, sent us the bad news—Kumuka, the company we were going to travel with through South America, had gone bust. Their trips departing before the end of July were still good to go, but everything after that was cancelled.
Our trip was supposed to leave today—Friday, 10 August. Hmm! Now that’s a nuisance.
Fortunately Brittany also sent us two possible solutions—trips with Tucan or Intrepid.
We were familiar with both companies. We saw Tucan trucks in Africa in 2009, and friends have travelled with Intrepid in Southeast Asia.
We opted for Tucan first. Their trip was a similar length, itinerary and price. The next day, Brittany got back to us to say that Tucan’s trip was for 18- to 35-year-olds only with NO exceptions. Actually I was rather pleased about the NO exceptions. Trips for that age group tend to be drinking extravaganzas. I enjoy a drink, but don’t need to for days on end.
Intrepid wasn’t as desirable a replacement. Their trip was shorter, had very few camping days (three in total) and didn’t include the bottom third of South America. Brittany came up with an add-on that covered the southern part of the continent, but that still didn’t offer us more camping.
But we were in luck—Intrepid’s trip was fully booked.
I asked Brittany if she knew anything about Oasis. No, not really. But I knew about Oasis. It’s another overland company—one that started up with some help from African Trails, the company we travelled with for almost a year in 2009.
I hit a big snag when I went hunting for Oasis. Their website was ‘down’ or had they too gone broke? A couple of people asked the same question on the Oasis Facebook page. But Natalie from Oasis answered fairly quickly to say the site was back up.
Within a few minutes we were discussing possibilities on their instant chat line, and about an hour later we’d paid and were all set up to do almost the same trip we had planned with Kumuka. Yay, Oasis!
We leave about five weeks later than originally planned (not until 17 September), so we’re spending more time bumming around the USA and fitting in some great travel and stops in Canada. Hope to sneak in a trip to Columbia and the Galapagos too.
So what could have been a disaster has turned out to be a bunch of bonuses.
And the best news of all—Kumuka was part of a Travel Compensation Fund. We’ve already got back 91 per cent of what we paid, and the other 9 per cent is looking promising. And a big thanks to Brittany who worked hard on our behalf.